Vasus are Cursed by Vasishta

Vasishta, the son of Varuna was a great sage. (This account is different from the one that makes him the wish-born son of Lord Brahma). He had his hermitage on Mount Meru, and this spot was very beautiful and secluded. He possessed a cow called Nandini, which was the daughter of Surabhi, by the sage Kashyapa. (Here, Surabhi is probably Kamadhenu). This cow, like her mother, was capable of yielding great riches to its possessor. It was in the habit of roaming the woods near the hermitage of the Rishi.

One day, the celestial Vasus came to this spot, accompanied by their wives. They were eight brothers, who normally lived in the heaven. When one of the ladies beheld Nandini, the cow of plenty, she became desirous of possessing it. She said to her husband Dyu, "My Lord, I wish to obtain this cow for my friend. My friend Jitavati, the daughter of the sage Usinara, is mortal. By drinking the milk from this cow regularly, she will be free from disease and decrepitude. Get this cow for me."

Now the Vasu knew that the cow belonged to the Rishi. So he tried to persuade his wife to forget about the cow, for the Rishi would not part with it under any circumstances. However, unable to bear the nagging of his wife, he ultimately decided to carry the cow away by force. Assisted by his brothers, he took the cow away to his home.

Rishi Vasishta had been away from his hermitage at this time. When he got back, he was surprised to see that his cow had not returned, long past its usual time. He searched the nearby woods and saw no sign of the cow. He then used his Yogic power and divined all that had taken place. He then cursed the Vasus, saying, "Since in their arrogance the Vasus have committed the sin of stealing a Brahmana's property, may they be born on earth and suffer a mortal's fate!".

When the Vasu's came to know of the Rishi's curse, they became penitent, and begged the Rishi to save them from his curse. At last, the sage relented. He said, "My curse cannot be completely stayed. The seven of you who have merely obeyed your brother's orders, shall not have to suffer the mortal fate for long. However, Dyu, who is really the author of this mischief, will have to suffer his curse for a long time. However, he shall be an illustrious warrior, and will not have any children."

Later, when King Mahabhishak was cursed by Lord Brahma to be born as King Shantanu, and it became known that the Goddess Ganga will be his wife, the Vasu's begged her to be their mother in their mortal incarnation. They were the seven children drowned by Ganga when she was the wife of King Shantanu. The eighth child was the incarnation of Dyu, and he came to be known as Bhishma. After a long life, full of sorrows towards its end, he returned to heaven after his death at the battlefield of Kurukshetra.